Carillon bells charm concertgoers

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published July 1, 2015

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Bells will peal throughout Oakland University’s campus in a new series of summer carillon recitals.

The free concerts are performed by internationally recognized carillonneurs, who aim to provide a variety of music via the 49-bell Elliott Tower completed last year on the OU campus.

“We have performers from Europe,” said Brian Bierley, OU director of media relations. 

“There are very few people who can do this. It is a very specialized skill.”

The inaugural concert June 26 featured OU carillonneur Dennis Curry — who performed the music of OU Provost James Lentini, Johann Sebastian Bach, Hoagy Carmichael and others. Curry has established a program of education and training through the OU Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. 

The carillon concert series, which will continue through the summer, will include carillonneurs Ray McLellan, from Michigan State University; Lisa Lonie and Janet Tebble, from Princeton University and Philadelphia, respectively; Toru Takao, from Germany; Olesya Rostovskaya, from Russia; and John Gouwens, from Culver Academies in Indiana. 

Concertgoers are encouraged to bring picnics and lawn chairs. Tables and chairs will be available for people who arrive early. A guided Elliott Tower tour follows each concert.

The 151-foot-high Elliott Tower was designed to be a rallying point for campus activities and is located between OU’s Kresge Library and the Oakland Center. The tower is surrounded by a water fountain, a garden, seating and lush landscaping. A $6.5 million gift from benefactors Hugh and Nancy Elliott, of Oakland Township, funded the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new tower and the bells that ring every quarter-hour.

Debby and Joe Durand, of Shelby Township, were among a crowd of about 100 at OU’s first concert in the series.

“It is beautiful and fantastic,” Joe Durand said.

“It is not something you hear every day,” Debby Durand said. “My daughter is a student here and sent us an email about the concert. She said, ‘I think you are going to want to go to this.’”

The OU Summer Carillon Concert Series will be held at 6 p.m. every Friday evening through Aug. 7, excluding July 3. Concerts last approximately one hour.

For more information about the series, visit oakland.edu/elliott-tower.

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